Modal Chord Progressions!

I have always been a fan of Gary Ewer’s online resources for learning basic music theory and improving your songwriting skills, but when the subject is very close to my heart, like Modal Chord Progressions, all of my lights and buzzers start to go off simultaneously!!

Gary Ewer has a post about how to get Lydian Mode progressions to work. I’ve tried some of these ideas over the years with limited success, but Gary goes into some detail about the specific problems with the Lydian, and how your ear can get easily led to the relative major (Ionian) or other relative mode.

If you want to try Lydian Chord Progressions on your DAD-tuned dulcimer, I suggest G Lydian as your tonal center. This way, you might have a home G chord, going to an A chord, then to something other than D. Why don’t you want to go to D? Because it will sound like a progression that comes HOME to D!! (IV – V – I)

What you really need to do is get the G chord to sound like HOME: even if it has that unsettling #4 (C# which you can find on the 2nd fret of the middle string) somewhere in a melodic element that goes over the G chord!

Let me know if you have any success with Lydian chords, but you might also have a look at Gary Ewer’s other GREAT articles on Modal Chord Progressions, linked on his blog below the article.

Hexatonic Scale with Em and D Triads

I found a very interesting way to build a hexatonic (or 6-tone) scale using just two adjacent triads, with no overlapping notes or common tones. Here is the diagram of the six tones from low to high, and a diagram showing how the two triads are complementary and how they are interlocked:

Diagram of D and Em Triads complementing each other to form a hexatonic scale
Diagram of D and Em Triads complementing each other to form a hexatonic scale

The dulcimer TAB below the notes is for DAD tuning, and the important thing here is to see the 7 – 5 – 4 of the D, and then the 8 – 6 – 5 of the Em. Each triad adds three essential ingredients to the hexatonic scale: there is no overlap. I’ve been using this scale referenced to Em as the tonic chord, so we have: the notes E (Root) – F# (2) – G (b3) – A (4) – B (5) – D (b7).

So for the great round Hey, Ho, Nobody Home–which does an endless cycle of Em / D / –this scale works wonders going consecutively down or up, and in many patterns that can be sequenced over the repeating chords.

Just Starting Work Here

I’m just getting started now with a mountain dulcimer oriented blog After some research and reading of some other blogs (as well as reading the excellent WordPress the missing manual, by Matthew MacDonald, I have decided to make a kind of “blog-in-progress” and let the structure and categories gradually sort themselves out.

We’ll see what happens with this. In the meantime, you may want to check out my main web site:

As time goes on, I’ll try to share lots of stuff about mountain dulcimers and dulcimer music with you. Thanks for reading!